This brief biography represents an effort to present concisely to the general reader the findings of modern scholarship on the life and exploits of Sir Francis Drake. After setting the sixteenth-century stage Lloyd discusses Drake’s early association with John Hawkins and the humiliation suffered at San Juan de Ulúa. Lloyd then deals with Drake as freebooter, circumnavigator, commander-in-chief of the West Indies expedition of 1585-86, “beard-singer,” and conqueror of the Armada. The remaining pages are devoted to Drake’s failures after 1589.
Lloyd assures his readers that the book “. . . is not written in the spirit of hero-worship . . .” (p. 11), and although Lloyd is properly critical on occasion, generally speaking Drake’s heroic image is retained. Thus it is Drake the great “practical navigator” whose genius towers above all the seamen of his day; it is Drake the honest and generous leader; and it is Drake the justified braggart. Moreover, the reader is asked to believe that Drake’s abandonment of Hawkins at San Juan de Ulúa should be charitably attributed to contrary winds; that it was Drake alone who realized the potential of naval power; and that, although Lord Howard of Effingham commanded the English fleet, it was Drake who fought the Armada.
Because of the brevity of the work some episodes lack full treatment. For example, Lloyd fails to deal with the question raised by Irene A. Wright regarding the presence of silver at Nombre de Dios during the 1572 raid. Nevertheless, the author has presented an interesting biography. The general reader who wishes to become better acquainted with Drake will profit from this book.